06/13/2013 07:41 EDT | Updated 08/13/2013 05:12 EDT

Real estate consultant charged with rigging federal bids

The owner of a real estate consulting firm in Ontario has been charged with fraud and violating the Competition Act in connection with the alleged rigging of bids for federal real estate consulting work.

Louis Facchini, who runs First Porter Consultancy in Carp, Ont., has been charged with bid-rigging for allegedly conspiring with another consulting company, Corporate Research Group, to submit co-ordinated bids for Public Works and Government Services Canada contracts, the Competition Bureau announced Thursday.

He also faces one count of fraud under the Criminal Code for allegedly submitting a false invoice with a value exceeding $5,000 to Public Works.

Facchini was part of a Competition Bureau investigation launched in 2009 into the rigging of bids for a 2007 request for standing offers for real estate advisory services issued by Public Works, which is the department in charge of real estate for the federal government.

CRG pleaded guilty in July 2012 to participating in the bid-rigging and was fined $125,000.

CRG officials said at the time that they and Facchini submitted co-ordinated bids that would have given the two companies 80 per cent of the department's real estate consulting work. It was the Public Works department that alerted the Competition Bureau to the possibility that bids had been co-ordinated.

Under the Competition Act, it is a criminal offence for two or more bidders to agree among themselves on the bids submitted, to agree that one party will refrain from bidding or to agree to withdraw a submitted bid, without informing the person calling for the bids of this agreement.